Posted Sep 7 2010 11:06PM
The guys who revel in the dirty work often go unnoticed and unrewarded. Just ask Louis Amundson.
One of the lynchpins off the wildly popular and game-changing Suns bench remains unsigned with about three weeks left before training camps open. Amundson, 27, isn't going back to Phoenix after the Suns revamped their frontline this offseason and remains unsure of his next stop.
But as long as the summer has been, Amundson's agent isn't worried about permanent NBA unemployment.
"He's going to wind up fine here at the end of the day," Mark Bartelstein said. "I think there are going to be some teams out there that are going to regret not going after him. He is a coach's dream. The hardest thing in this league to find is bigs that play with great energy every night, and just change the tenor and dynamics of the game."
Golden State is earnestly pursuing Amundson, viewing the 6-foot-9 sparkplug as a potential piece to round out its frontcourt rotation. New Orleans, Indiana, Toronto and Charlotte are among the other teams that have reportedly shown interest in the UNLV grad.
Amundson doesn't fill up the box score -- his 4.7 points, 4.4 rebounds and 14.8 minutes were career highs last season -- but his worth goes beyond simple numbers. The Suns' second team was instrumental in the team's surprising run to the Western Conference finals and Amundson was its grind-it-out pest, willing to mix it up against more athletic power forwards and bigger centers.
"Energy every night," former Suns general manager Steve Kerr said. "He changed the game as soon as he entered the lineup -- blocked shots and got us extra possessions."
He also received little fanfare outside the Valley of the Suns. While definitely a fan favorite, and equally popular with his teammates and the coaching staff, Amundson has generated little buzz on the open market. He's slipped through the cracks of free agency while role-playing big men such as Tony Battie, Kwame Brown, Brian Cook, Juwan Howard and Johan Petro switched teams. Amundson may be the most attractive low-post option left unsigned.
The Suns didn't seriously consider bringing Amundson back after losing Amar'e Stoudemire to New York, electing instead to plug the holes up front with Hedo Turkoglu and Hakim Warrick. Amundson wanted to return to Phoenix after carving out an impactful niche the last two years.
"Teams talk all the time about how they want guys that play hard, that have a great motor," Bartelstein said. "It's not until after they lose him that they realize they miss the guy that knocks balls loose to grab offensive rebounds and kick it out for open 3-pointers.
"Those guys are so valuable for winning basketball. Because he's not the most skilled guy in the world, teams can take that for granted. Players like Louis Amundson win you a lot of games. His numbers don't justify what he does. If you're not watching him play every night, you don't appreciate how good he is. If all you do is look up his stats, you have no idea the difference he makes in game."
Kerr is surprised Amundson is still without a contact. Kerr, currently a TNT analyst, inked the little-known Amundson two years ago after a pair of nondescript seasons in Utah and Philadelphia.
"I really like him," Kerr said. "Guys like him are hard to find."
Especially if teams aren't looking. Bartelstein said several situations need to shake out before Amundson settles on his next team. The waiting game could go up to the eve of camp. Such is the subjective and fickle world of free agency.
"Louis and I would like to have something done yesterday," Bartelstein said. "At this point it's gone on for quite awhile and he wants to make sure he doesn't make a decision just to make a decision. There are a couple variables that have to play out that we think give us a clearer picture of what we think is the right spot. As soon as that becomes clearer, he'll want to make a decision right away."
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